My spelling-crazy son is also a collector, which means that he likes to collect words with unique spellings, such as examples of supervocalics. A supervocalic is a word that contains all of the vowels – think “sequoia” – and they turn up in unlikely places. One day he heard me say the word “consumerization” in a phone conversation, thought for a moment, and then said, “That’s a supervocalic!” followed by, “What does it mean?” He also told his teacher that he had a new supervocalic, and he says that her reaction to the word “consumerization” was, “That’s not a real word.”
I bring up this story because it gets to a question I’ve been grappling with for a while, and that was answered for me at this week’s Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit. The definition of “consumerization” is of course a subject that this blog, among others, have covered well, but the question that has bothered me is whether the word “consumerization” itself means anything to our customers, or is it just an industry (read “marketing”) term for a trend that captures a much wider set of technical scenarios that our customers are grappling with in their IT environments? I was skeptical, to say the least. Over the course of three days speaking with customers in the Trend Micro booth and in around the conference, however, I noticed that in addition to asking about Trend’s solutions for mobile device management, mobile security, VDI, and cloud, several customers asked specifically about Trend Micro’s solutions for consumerization.
This was the first time I had heard customers use the term, so out of curiosity I asked each why they did, and they responded that it was the term their management was using, and they were stressing over how to address it. The primary scenario behind the question was always how to manage and secure the employee-owned iPhones, iPads and Android devices that are making their IT environments. Interestingly, for these customers cloud and VDI were generally seen as solutions for the consumerization of IT, rather than drivers – it may take Apple’s iCloud to provide the ‘killer app’ for cloud in consumerization that the iPad has been so far. Until then, I’ll feel better using the word “consumerization” to talk about our solutions knowing that it’s becoming the term that IT professionals, and not just analysts and marketing folks, use to describe the most pervasive challenge in IT today.